Kenedy, Marina Granovskaia and Chelsea's winners and losers after the January transfer window

 

Chelsea's January transfer window was something of a non-event. The Blues didn't make a single first-team signing nor did they let anybody depart from Thomas Tuchel's squad.

 That was always expected to be the case in truth. Tuchel did want reinforcement at left wing-back in the absence of Ben Chilwell but there was only one candidate the German truly felt was worth pushing for in the transfer market: Emerson Palmieri.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. And when Chelsea decided to give up on bringing the Italian international back to Stamford Bridge from Lyon, that was effectively the end of their transfer window endeavours.

 So Tuchel will see out the remainder of this season with virtually the same squad he went into January with. Thankfully, several key figures have returned to fitness since the start of the year and Reece James is inching ever closer to his return from a hamstring injury.

There are those within the first-team group that have benefitted from Chelsea's quiet January. Others are the club will not be so content with how the winter transfer window played out. Here, we pick out our Chelsea's winners and losers from January now that transfer deadline day has passed.

Winners Marcos Alonso

Since Chilwell suffered his season-ending knee ligament injury against Juventus in November, the Spaniard has regained his role in the Chelsea side. He has started 11 of the Blues' last 12 Premier League games; the only one that he began on the bench was the victory over Tottenham prior to the current international break.

Tuchel did want another left wing-back brought to Stamford Bridge in January – more on that below – but it didn't happen and that will mean Alonso is guaranteed regular minutes for the remainder of the campaign.

The 31-year-old polarises opinion among the Chelsea fanbase and there is no doubt he lacks the same physicality offered by Chilwell down the left, but Alonso is a Spain international and a Champions League winner. He is not a busted flush as some have been keen to make out. He will, however, face competition from another winner of Chelsea's January window...

Malang Sarr

In the weeks leading up to the winter transfer window, football.london understands Chelsea were open to letting Sarr leave the club on loan if the right offer arrived. That stance quickly changed, though, when he was handed an opportunity on the left of a back four by Tuchel against Tottenham.

Sarr impressed in the Carabao Cup fixture at Stamford Bridge on January 5 and has since started three of the Blues' four matches in all competitions. In the process, as touched upon above, he has moved above Alonso in the left- back pecking order.

The 23-year-old is a work in progress at Chelsea. He has improved massively from his pre-season outing against Tottenham in August and has earned Tuchel's trust, something evidenced by his start at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City.

He may not be the most natural of left-backs nor the identikit replacement for Chilwell, but he proved himself a reliable presence in January and has secured his spot in the squad.

Kenedy

It's been nearly four years since Kenedy played for Chelsea and when he departed the club on loan in the summer for Flamengo his career with the Blues very much appeared to be over. But having not featured regularly for Flamengo during the first half of the campaign, he was recalled by Chelsea in January and was reincorporated in the first-team squad, although with interest in La Liga it wasn't expected to be a long stay.

Tuchel felt differently and decided the Brazilian could be a potential solution at left wing-back. Not as a starter, but as cover, an option to lean on if required. And that is the role the 25-year-old is expected to play for the remainder of the season. Not bad for a player who spent much of the first half of the campaign on the bench in his homeland.

Losers Ross Barkley

The 28-year-old is the one member of Tuchel's first-team squad who truly needed a move away from Stamford Bridge in January. He didn't get it. football.london understands there was some low- level Premier League interest shown in Barkley last month but no club made a genuine attempt to take him from Chelsea on loan – or permanently – with his £100,000-a-week salary prohibitive.

Barkley's time with the Blues appeared over in the summer when his number eight shirt was handed to Mateo Kovacic. That he has gone on to make 12 appearances this term is testament to Tuchel's willingness to use players at his disposal rather than casting them aside.

With the majority of the Chelsea squad fit and refreshed going into the rest of the season, it's difficult to see Barkley being handed many more minutes by Tuchel. Something needs to change in the summer for the midfielder, but he will still have a year left on his contract.

Xavier Mbuyamba

The Dutch centre-back arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2020 with a burgeoning reputation but spent the majority of his first season with the club out injured after suffering a knee ligament injury. Mbuyamba has been a regular for the Development Squad this term and there was interest from clubs keen to take him on loan in January. However, according to his agent, Carlos Barros, Chelsea didn't want him to leave Cobham.

"There is a difference of opinion, to be honest. We feel that he is best served by going on loan but they want to keep him to help their Under-23s who are struggling," he told Goal .

"We are a bit frustrated because we have options in the UK and Dutch Eredivisie but they are currently being blocked. We just wanted to be open about the situation because we feel like the situation may slow down his development as a player."


Ultimately, no loan move was found by Mbuyamba and the 20-year-old will spend the remainder of the campaign with the Development Squad, who are scheduled to play only nine more games between now and the end of the season.

Marina Granovskaia

Given Chelsea were not in the market for a host of players in January, perhaps Granovskaia's inclusion in this section is a little harsh. However, Tuchel was keen on the club bringing Emerson back to Stamford Bridge and that didn't happen.

It was, in hindsight, an error to let the Italian international leave on loan for Lyon last summer without a break clause being included in the deal. Although the Ligue 1 side would almost certainly have pushed back had that been requested.

Chelsea spent the opening three weeks of the window attempting to come to a compromise with Lyon and went as far as to offer the French side compensation – believed to be around £3million – to end the loan early. But OL stood firm and the Blues were left frustrated.

That Chelsea didn't pursue another left-back/wing- back last month is telling. Tuchel didn't want any player signed to cover Chilwell's absence, he wanted Emerson. And given that wasn't done, it's impossible to feel Chelsea's window was a true success.

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